Public Understanding of Science

Topics: Key Stage, Smoking, Passive smoking Pages: 34 (7442 words) Published: June 11, 2013
Issues relating to the Public Understanding of Science

With a focus on the Public’s Understanding of Smoking

By: Lindsay Oliver
Student ID: ttxlo3
Submission Date: 03.01.2011


Issues relating to the Public Understanding of SciencePage 2 - 5

Introduction and BackgroundPage 2
Issues relating to Public Understanding of SciencePage 2- 5

Focus study on the Public Understanding of SmokingPage 6 - 17

Introduction and AimPage 6

MethodsPage 6
ResultsPage 7 - 14
DiscussionPage 14 - 16

ReferencesPage 16 -17

AppendicesPage 18 - 36

Appendix 1: Smoking and Health QuestionnairePage 18 - 20

Appendix 2: Smoking and Health Questionnaire – Coding for Raw DataPage 21 -23

Appendix 3: Raw Data Results of returned questionnairesPage 24 - 31

Appendix 4: Data Analysis of ResultsPage 32 - 36

Introduction and Background

In recent decades, there has been a growing emphasis on improving the public’s understanding of Science, with various reports being formulated, such as ”The Public Understanding of Science”, produced by The Royal Society (1985;“The Bodmer Report”), to highlight and tackle the issues faced in addressing this (Bodmer, 1985). Various surveys have also been undertaken to measure “adult scientific literacy” within the given public (Miller, 2001). As acting members of the public, we are affected daily by scientifically based issues. In order for us to contribute to, and help make informed decisions on these issues, we first need to have a basic knowledge on such matters, to ensure our understanding, and logically contribute to this decision making, i.e. the public should be “scientifically literate” (Jenkins, 1999). Although various tactics have been taken to increase the public literacy of science, such as the formation of the Committee of the Public Understanding of Science (CoPUS) (Miller, 2001), an emphasis on “Science for all”, with a revision of school curriculums globally (Jenkins, 1999), surveys are not showing there to be an increase in the public’s actual understanding of science based issues (Miller,2001). The aim of this essay is to begin to examine the factors behind why this may be, exploring critically a range of issues in relation to the Public Understanding of Science (PUS), such as science in the National Curriculum, and existing knowledge of the public. Following this discussion, a focus will then be taken the issue of the public and smoking, where a questionnaire was administered on the topic area (Appendix 1), results analysed (Appendix 3 &4), and discussed in relation to previous research. Issues relating to the Public Understanding of Science

So what is meant by this term PUS? According to the House of Lords report, “Science and Technology – Third Report”(2000), PUS can be defined as: "...the understanding of scientific matters by non-experts. This cannot...mean a comprehensive knowledge of all branches of science. It may however include understanding of the nature of scientific methods...awareness of current scientific advances and their implications.” (House of Lords, 2000). In other words, the understanding of science content by the public, understanding how this content has came about through the scientific method, and having an awareness of the effect science has within society. But why is this important? This was clearly addressed in the initial summary of The Bodmer Report (1985): “Science and technology play a major role in most aspects of our daily lives... industry and thus our national prosperity depend on them. Almost all public policy issues have scientific or technological implications. Everybody, therefore, needs some understanding of science...Many personal decisions, for example about diet... would be helped by some understanding of the underlying science.”

The calling was to improve public understanding of current and potential...

References: Action on Smoking and Health (2011). ASH Factsheet: Smoking statistics: Illness and death. United Kingdom: The Information Standard.
Bodmer, W.F. (1985). The Public Understanding of Science.London: The Royal Society
Dawkins, R
Frost, J. (2010) Learning to Teach Science in the Secondary School. Oxon: Routledge.
Higgins, V. (1998). Young Teenagers and Smoking in 1998. Newport: Office for National Statistics.
House of Lords (2000). Science and Technology – Third Report. London: House of Lords.
Jenkins, E.W. (1999) School science, citizenship and the public understanding of science. International Journal of Science Education 21(7): 703-710.
Millar, R. & Osborne, J. (1998). Beyond 2000: Science education for the future. London: Kings College London.
Miller, S. (2001). Public understanding of science at the crossroads. Public Understanding of Science 10: 115-120.
National Curriculum: Key Stages 1-4 (2007) Science: Programme of study for key stage 3 and attainment targets. The National Curriculum for England: Key Stages 1-4. London: Department for Education: Qualifications and Curriculum Authority (QCA).
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